Marvel Films: Character Rights

What makes a Marvel Movie?  Well, first off it would need to have a character from a published Marvel Comic Book.

How many characters are there in this vast library?  It has been said to be around 7,000 characters.  Who really knows though unless they have someone locked up in a room with an endless supply of Mountain Dew counting each character’s appearance.  Why don’t we just say “there are many”.

Back when Marvel didn’t have a Studio they had to “option” their character’s out to other studio’s to get them onto the big screen.  Following a bankruptcy I want to say that they also needed the money.  Maybe not, it may just be that they wanted to expand their brand.  I’m happy they did. The licensing of characters happened for many years and I can’t really say that it has been the best thing in terms of making honest Marvel movies (following source material and all).  Fox has probably done the best but when I say that I don’t like much how they’ve pretty much created their own take on the X-men.  They’re still learning.

So, in the late 90’s New Line Cinema optioned Blade.  We all know how that went.  It sparked the Marvel Movie Madness and then the Blade franchise fizzled in three movies like a candle on a 2 year old’s birthday cake.  In 1999, Spider-Man was licensed to Sony Pictures.  (very complicated trade-off involving MGM and a mess of developmental problems.)  Following them was the X-men being bought by 20th Century Fox.  That deal was probably the best since they get “all mutants” in that deal.  So, let’s take a look at the deals that are still in play now that it has been over 12 years.  There have been many character rights to revert to Marvel since then and here are the one’s still in action.

Sony / Columbia Pictures

Spider-Man (including characters in Spider-Man Family)

Specifics aren’t known about the deal but rumors are plenty.  Production had started on “The Amazing Spider-Man” in Dec 2010 so, I’m guessing that this was the time frame Spider-Man 4 was supposed to begin as well to keep the rights in Sony’s hands.  That would be 3 years between movies if we are going by Release date to Production start date.  If we go from Release date to Release date then that would be 5 years.  (2007 to 2012)  Who knows really.  In researching this I did find a rumor that sounded pretty fair.  Sam Raimi was said to have left due to the time crunch and him needing more time to develop Spider-Man 4.  They did receive back the TV rights so that’s a win right?

Ghost Rider (including characters in the Ghost Rider Family)

Same probably goes for ole’ Flame Head.  I’m sure that if movie’s are made every “x” amount of years then the rights stick with Sony. In this case it has been 5 years as well.  (2007 to 2012)

20th Century Fox

X-Men (including characters in the X-Men Family… actually all mutants I believe)

X-Men Origins came out in ’09 and X-men: First Class came out in ’11.  3 year window maybe?  There has been a 3 year gap with all the X-men films since 2000.  (X-Men – 2000, X2 – 2003, X-Men: The Last Stand – 2006…)  So, I would have to guess that X-Men: Second Class would be due to release in 2014.  If not then yay!  But, I wouldn’t suspect Fox giving up their Mutant Cash Cow.  This also includes the Sequel to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and the spinoff “Deadpool” both of which are in “development”.

fantastic Four (including characters in the Fantastic Four Family)

The next two licensed characters is really confusing to me.  I don’t see how they haven’t reverted back to Marvel by now.  2007 was the last release of a FF movie.  Wouldn’t they have to have started production by now?  So far, all that has circulated is Reboot rumors (started in 2009) but nothing has actually transpired and you have to at least figure 2 years to make one of these movies. (maybe, year and a half).

Daredevil (including characters in the Daredevil Family)

Same.  But even more confusing.  The last Daredevil family release was Elektra in 2005.  That’s a 7 year gap!  then 2 more for making it… 9 years!  Really?!  That must have been one heck of a contract.  I’ve heard somewhere that it may not even be a Release date stipulation.  As long as they are “in development” then they are fine to keep the rights.

Characters that have reverted back to Marvel Studios since the Blade movie (1998)

Blade, Man-Thing, Hulk, The Punisher among other’s that never got movies made.

Why is this even a big deal?  Well, 2 reasons.

1.  Having the characters in the hands of the company that truly understands them and their history should be reason enough.

2.  We will never see a movie that has Spider-Man trying to join the Fantastic Four or we won’t see Wolverine being a member of the New Avengers.  I think you get the idea.

Since Marvel had created Marvel Studios then it makes sense for them to make movies about their characters.  Iron Man was the first to be handled and it was handled terrifically.  Then that created the whole Crossover idea which was totally unheard of but at the same time made sense being a Comic Book Adaptation.  They weren’t even able to think that way back when all their major character’s were on lease to other studios.  But now, times are a changin’.

Those of you that don’t really follow what I’m talking’ about just go ahead and leave me some comments and we’ll talk.  Others, don’t forget that I have a Marvel Movie Development page that gets updated often.  (not like CNN up to date but I do what I can.)

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2 thoughts on “Marvel Films: Character Rights”

  1. there actually is a loop hole with the mutants thing with scarlet witch and quicksilver although they are mutants they are allowed to be in an avengers film or a marvel studio film as they were in he avengers for a long time. But if that does happen marvel studios will struggle doing an origin story as they will not be able to mention any mutants or there father magneeto

    1. I agree. There are probably more stipulations like these that we don’t even know about. But that is true. They can be in an Avengers movie but they cannot reference the fact that they are mutants. Same with an X-Men flick. They can do so but they can never reference that they are Avengers.

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